"The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times."
It is Wednesday, almost the half-way mark of the trip. And it was beginning to be felt by everyone. Homesickness, indigestion, out of the comfort zone etc. And to be perfectly honest, that is a good thing. Hanna and I like to call ourselves Mama Hanna and Father Franks, and there is a reason behind it. I feel that I love these kids. Perhaps it is because I see myself in them when I was lost in a new world, thrust into uncharted waters, attempting to stay afloat. But nevertheless, I want them to dive right into the water, even if it may seem deep and dark. Yes, I will be there as a flotation device to hold onto, but they need to learn to swim in international waters. True learning takes place when you experience something new and unknown and perhaps uncomfortable. Your brain must rewire to paddle your way through the murkiness of uncertainty, until you find that without effort you can glide. This is what I hope for everyone on this trip. To gain that sense of confidence in oneself, and recognize that the trick is to keep trying new ways to swim.
"Every blessing if ignored becomes a curse."
Recognizing that some of the kids were struggling to climb the hump of Wednesday, we wanted to do a privilege walk. Everyone is unique, and some people may feel comfortable in South Korea in some areas, where others may not. So we had everyone close their eyes and we read off statements, making them step forward or backward. After opening their eyes we were all in different places. Now, some people were further backward than others, but everyone recognized what it meant to step forward or back. As a white male who has travelled internationally prior to South Korea, I know that I am privileged in this regard. Yet if I did not recognize that, I couldn't help someone who is struggling. And if I truly am Father Franks and Hanna is Mama Hanna, then our kids are our family and we must all stick together, help one another, recognize our strengths, and lift anyone up who is feeling weak. And that brings us to our next quote.
"When we strive to become better than we are, everyone around us becomes better, too."
We are all in this together, but that does not mean one person can not excel. If someone is drowning and a person is untrained, then they would be pulled down. But if someone who trains to be the best lifeguard out there, both will find the safety of the warm sand between their toes. Our goal as mentors is to create as many lifeguards as we possibly can. We want the students to continue to get better, and never settle for comfortable. There shall be no plateaus, but rather, mountains and valleys. Triumphs and hardships. That is how you improve, that is how you learn, and that is how you grasp the most out of life.
Just a quick less serious sneak peak of our day.
The students gave presentations to the Korean classrooms about themselves and American culture. Allie had the honor of being interviewed by her host sister, which was broadcasted over the entire school. (We all applauded her.) We then visited the Korean classrooms, toured the Samsung facilities. (Which was honestly unreal. Samsung provides so much for their employees compared to the United States. It was truly fascinating.) And the students visited Oeam Folk Village while Hanna and I presented on MSU and RCAH in a Korean high school. We had a classic Korean meal and played a more organized game of soccer which exhausted all of us. Now we are all ready to hit the sack, wake up and go to Everland (an amusement park) and get some thrills.
To another good day.